Featured Plenary Speakers

Michael Caterina MD, PhD
Johns Hopkins School of Medicine
Peter J Dyck Lecture: Mechanisms of Cutaneous Pain Sensation


Dr. Michael J. Caterina is a professor of neurosurgery, biological chemistry and neuroscience at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine and Director of the Neurosurgery Pain Research Institute at Johns Hopkins. Dr. Caterina earned his bachelor's degree from Pennsylvania State University and subsequently the M.D. and Ph.D. degrees from the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine. He completed a fellowship in cellular and molecular pharmacology at the University of California, San Francisco. Dr. Caterina joined the Johns Hopkins faculty in 1999.Current topics of interest in his lab at Johns Hopkins include: mechanisms underlying pain in hereditary skin diseases and cellular and molecular mechanisms of neuropathic pain, and contributions of transient receptor potential channels to pain.


Aaron DiAntonio, MD, PhD
Washington University School of Medicine 
Jack Griffin Lecture: The Molecular Mechanism of Axon Degeneration: SARM1 as a Druggable Target for the Prevention of Peripheral Neuropathy


Dr. Aaron DiAntonio is the Alan A. and Edith L. Wolff Professor of Developmental Biology and the Co-Director of the Needleman Center for Neurometabolism and Axonal Therapeutics at the Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis. His laboratory combines genetics, cell biology, biochemistry, and physiology in both Drosophila and mouse to investigate molecular mechanisms that control the formation, maintenance, and repair of neural circuits in development and disease. His laboratory is now translating these fundamental mechanistic insights into novel therapies for the treatment of neurological disease.


Laura Feltri, MD 
SUNY at Buffalo
Richard Bunge Lecture: Signals to Schwann cells during myelination and peripheral neuropathies.


Dr. Feltri is Acting Director of the Hunter James Kelly Research Institute and Professor of Biochemistry and Neurology at the Jacobs School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences at the State University of New York at Buffalo.   Dr. Feltri received her medical degree from the University of Milano, Italy.  She completed her internship in Medicine and Residency in Neurology in the San Raffaele Hospital, University of Milano, Italy.  She was a Neuroscience post-doctoral fellow at Thomas Jefferson University and at the University of Pennsylvania.  Dr. Feltri worked from 1993 to 2011 at the San Raffaele Scientific Institute of Milano, Italy, where she was the Head of the Unit of Neuro-Glia.  Dr. Feltri’s scientific interest is on myelin and myelin diseases.  Together, with the laboratory of Lawrence Wrabetz, she developed the first Cre transgene that targets specifically Schwann cells, and pioneered conditional transgenesis to understand the role of extracellular matrix components and their receptors in developing and pathological peripheral nerves.  Her laboratory has identified the diverse roles and many of the downstream signals for laminin receptors in nerve development.   The NIH, National Multiple Sclerosis Society, Hunter Hope Foundation, Charcot-Marie-tooth Association, Telethon Italy and the European Community have funded her research and she has authored more than 100 peer-reviewed publications.   Dr. Feltri has mentored many graduate and MD-PhD students with several of them achieving independent faculty and other leadership positions, and has served the clinical and scientific community on the Board of the Peripheral Nerve Society, the medical board of the Charcot-Marie-Tooth Association and as member of the National Multiple Sclerosis Study Sessions. Dr. Feltri is the current Chair of the Cellular and Molecular Biology of Glia at the NIH and she served as Editorial member of the Journal of Neuroscience, Glia and Experimental Neurology.  At SUNY Buffalo, Dr. Feltri was awarded an Exceptional Scholar Award for Sustained Achievements, the SUNY Chancellor’s Award for Excellence in Scholarship and Creative Activities and the Distinguished Post-doc Mentor Award.


Frank Bennett, PhD 
Ionis Pharamceuticals, Inc 
Keynote SpeakerAntisense Therapies for Neurological Diseases


Dr. Cavalli’s work aims to understand the complex cascade of cellular events responsible for repairing damaged axons in peripheral nerves and to identify therapeutic targets to improve neuronal recovery following axon injury. Dr. Cavalli and her colleagues have identified several key molecular players and their roles in announcing injury, initiating a response and carrying out repair. Among them are mammalian Target of Rapamycin (mTOR), JNK-interacting protein, JIP3 and the gene regulators HDAC5 and HIF-1alpha. Dr. Cavalli earned her bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral degrees from the University of Geneva, Switzerland. During her graduate work in the lab of Dr. Jean Gruenberg in Geneva, Dr. Cavalli studied the signaling mechanisms regulating membrane trafficking in cells. She continued with postdoctoral training at the University of California, San Diego. There she joined the lab of Dr. Larry Goldstein and studied how vesicular transport impacts signaling along peripheral nerves, and, vice versa, how signaling impacts vesicular transport. In her initial studies, she focused on retrograde injury signaling, or how information about an injury is conveyed from the distantly located lesion site in the axon back to the cell body. She received a post-doctoral fellowship from the Christopher and Dana Reeve Foundation to continue her studies on injury signaling. She then joined the Washington University faculty in 2006 and is now Associate Professor in the Department of Neuroscience.


Rebecca Schule, MD
University of Tübingen, Hertie Institute for Clinical Brain Research & German Center for Neurodegenerative Diseases (DZNE)
PK Thomas Lecture: Genetics of Hereditary Spastic Paraplegia - overlap between central and peripheral axonopathies


Rebecca Schüle is a neurologist and neuroscientist at the University of Tübingen, Germany. She is the coordinator of the TreatHSP.net consortium, a translational network aiming to accelerate development and implementation of novel therapeutic options for HSPs. She is engaged in national and international initiatives for a joint, sustainable, harmonized and standardized capture of longitudinal clinical data for HSPs (HSP Registry) and leads and participates in multiple efforts to develop and validate clinical, molecular and digital biomarkers as outcome parameters for clinical trials. Rebecca Schüle is one of the leading HSP geneticists, initiator of the international HSP OMICS repository and HSP Biobank and models HSP pathophysiology in human stem cell derived model systems.


Mahesh KB, Parmar, MD 
MRC Clinical Trials Unite and UCL, London, United Kingdom 

Arthur K Asbury Lecture: Novel Clinical Trial Design in Rare Diseases 


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